Thursday, November 15, 2007

By Jove, Holmes!

Looking for Holmes

No, Doctor Watson, Holmes isn't by Jove. It's in Perseus!

Mary and I were outside from about 1:15 to 2:45 this morning, being dazzled. And my camera was reminding me that it was limited to a 4-second max exposure and wouldn't give me a focus on anything.

Temperature was in the 50s F. The sky was crystal clear, enough for us to see the Milky Way. And:

  • Mars (which is stunningly bright to the naked eye right now);
  • The Orion Nebula (a little fuzz when seen by the naked eye, gorgeous even in our low-end but excellent Astroscan);
  • The Andromeda Galaxy (again visible to the naked eye as a little fuzz, and a very pretty oblong fuzz in the telescope);
  • Two meteors, one of which left a trail that must have taken at least a second to fade;
  • Stars everywhere, of course (including the Pleiades, one of the prettiest clusters around); and
  • Comet Holmes, just about the most ethereal thing I've ever laid eyes on.

  • So that's stars, a planet, a nebula, a galaxy, meteors, and a comet, after the Moon had set.

    Wednesday's St. Petersburg Times contained a small item about comet 17P/Holmes. That sent me to Sky and Telescope online, which has this article about a comet that has suddenly brightened, enough to be visible to the naked eye if you know where to look.

    I knew Holmes was in Perseus. Mary found it first on all three counts -- naked eye, binoculars, and telescope. Seen with the naked eye, Holmes was a dim little fuzz.

    Then I looked at it through the binoculars and said, "Oh. My. God."

    This image by Bryan Lashley is almost identical to what I saw.

    Shortly before 3 AM we finally came back inside and shared some celebratory hot cocoa before bed.

    [end of entry]

    Deviations: Covenant can be pre-ordered from Aisling Press and also can be ordered from AbeBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powell's Books, and Target. The Deviations page has additional details.


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